Skip to main content

Janice W. Fernheimer

Ph.D. in English, concentration in Rhetoric and Writing, from the University of Texas at Austin, 2006. MA in American Literature from the University of Texas at Austin, 2001. BA in English with Honors and concentration in Jewish Studies from the University of Maryland, 1998.

Born and raised in Gaithersburg, MD, Janice Fernheimer earned her BA in English at the University of Maryland, College Park and both her MA in American Literature and her PhD in English with a concentration in Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin.  In Fall 2008, she was a visiting scholar at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute for Gender and Jewish Studies. Prior to joining the faculty at UK, she was Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At the University of Kentucky, she is the Zantker Charitable Foundation Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies; and a James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits Faculty Fellow at the University of Kentucky and teaches courses in rhetoric, technology, and Jewish  Rhetorical Studies.

She is the author of  Stepping Into Zion: Hatzaad Harishon, Black, Jews and the Remaking of Jewish Identity (University of Alabama Press 2014) and co-editor along with Michael Bernard-Donals of Jewish Rhetorics: History, Theory, Practice (Brandeis University Press 2014). She has published essays in Rhetoric Society QuarterlyCollege EnglishJournal of Communication and ReligionComputers and Composition Online, Argumentation and AdvocacyJournal of Business and Technical CommunicationTechnical Communication, and Oral History Review, and Journal of Jewish Identities  Along with her research collaborators Dr. Beth L. Goldstein, Dr. Douglas A. Boyd, and Sarah Dorpinghaus she established the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence (JHFE) Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, a repository of 122+ oral histories for Jewish Kentuckians housed at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. In collaboration with author/illustrator JT Waldman, she is currently authoring an archives and oral-history based transmedia project America's Chosen Spirit  which includes a webcomic and podcast series that detail the influences of Jews and other minorities on the Kentucky bourbon industry.  In collaboration with students in Bourbon Oral History Spring 2021, she launched the Women in Bourbon Oral History Project. When she’s not writing or teaching, you can usually find her dancing salsa or swing or bicycling around Kentucky!

Research Interests:
Composition and Rhetoric
Kentucky African American history
Oral History
Jewish Studies
Rhetoric and Writing
Visual Rhetoric and Comics
Jewish Rhetorics
Writing and the Bourbon Industry
Jewish Kentucky

Office hours by appointment.


History and theory of Jewish Rhetorical Studies; Rhetoric of identity; Literacy, Technology, and Pedagogy; Rhetorical theory; History of rhetoric; Gender studies; Rhetoric of the Palestinian-Israeli conflicts; Holocaust rhetoric and representation; Nineteenth-century African-American rhetoric; Nineteenth and twentieth century African-American and Jewish literature; Archival research methods; Interdisciplinary Collaboration

JHFE Scholarship deadline March 26, 2017
Selected Publications:



Stepping Into Zion: Hatzaad Harishon, Black Jews, and the Remaking of Jewish Identity. University of Alabama Press, Series in Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique, 2014.

Jewish Rhetorics, edited by Michael Benard-Donals and Janice W. Fernheimer. Brandeis University Press, 2014.

Networks of Rhetorical Action and Resistance: Fela and Chaim Perelman’s Social Sphere. This monograph argues that Chaim Perelman, his wife Fela, and their network of Belgian Resistance leaders enacted the model of rhetorical action later developed in the The New Rhetoric Project. This project is in development; I spent two summers (2009, 2010) researching archival materials related to the Perelman’s resistance to German Occupation in  Belgium and participation in the Aliyah Bet. (Prospectus in progress).

Select Peer-Reviewed Articles

“Heuristics for Broader Assessment of Effectiveness and Usability in Technology-Mediated Technical Communication.” Roger A. Grice, Audrey G. Bennett, Janice W. Fernheimer, Cheryl Geisler, Robert Krull,  Raymond A. Lutzky, Matthew G.J. Rolph, Patricia Search, and James P. Zappen. (forthcoming Technical Communication).

“Transdisciplinary Itexts and the Future of Web-Scale Collaboration.” With Lisa Litterio and Jim Hendler.  Journal of Business and Technical Communication. July 2011. 322-337. 

Talmidai Rhetoricae: ‘Drashing Up Models and Methods for Jewish Rhetorical Studies.”Introduction to special issue of College English: “Composing Jewish Rhetorics” Guest Editor: Janice Fernheimer. July 2010. 577-597.

“Collaborative Convergences in Research and Pedagogy:  An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Writing with Wikis,” with Dr. Dean Nieusma, Dr. Lei Chi, Dr. Lupita Montoya, Thomas Kujala, and Andrew LaPadula. Computers and Composition Online. Fall 2009.

“Black Jewish Identity Conflict: A Divided Universal Audience and the Impact of Dissociative Disruption.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly. Volume 39. January 2009, p. 46-72.  

“From Jew to Israelite: Making Uncomfortable Communions and The New Rhetoric’s Tools for Invention.” Argumentation and Advocacy. Guest Editor. David Frank. Spring 2008, p. 198-212.

Bridging the Divide: Blogs in the Composition Classroom, ” with Tom Nelson.  Currents in Electronic Literacy.Volume 9. December 2005.

 Select Book Chapters Published

“Arguing from Difference: Cooper, Emerson, Guizot, and a More Harmonious America.” Speaking Our Minds: Black Women’s Thought in the Nineteenth Century. Ed. Kristin Waters and Carol B. Conaway. Lebanon, New Hampshire: University of Vermont Press, 2007. 287-305.

*Recipient of The Letitia Woods Brown Memorial Book Prize for best anthology about African American women's history for 2007.           

“Breaking the Commandments of Holocaust Representation? Conflicting Genre Expectations in Audience Responses to Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful.Beyond Life is Beautiful: Comedy and Tragedy in the Cinema of Roberto Benigni. Ed. Grace Russo Bullaro. Leicester, UK; Troubador Publishing, 2005. 292-321.

 Projects in Progress

The Women in Bourbon Oral History Project

·       This project fills a gap in both scholarly and popular attention to the many women who play a key role in Kentucky’s $8.6 billion dollar bourbon industry (KDA). Advancing much needed work in diversity, equity, and inclusion, this project will document the extensive record of women who have helped shape the bourbon industry and the culture of bourbon that surrounds it. The project will include a variety of  women’s voices representing multiple perspectives (including but not limited to Black women and other women of color), and will be established in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, the James B. Beam Institute for Kentucky Spirits, and advanced students in Bourbon Oral History. 

·       This project was launched in conjunction with students enrolled in WRD 569/HIS 595 Bourbon Oral History in Spring 21 and builds upon the successful model of student research developed with the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project. This model trains both undergraduate and graduate students in professional oral history methods while providing them with access to leading women in one of the most lucrative industries in the Commonwealth; the chance to make history each time they conduct an original interview; and opportunities to publicly present their original research.

·       To date 24 interviews have been collected; over the next 3-5 years the project aims to collect 100-150 interviews of female industry leaders.


America’s Chosen Spirit: Distilling the Jewish Roots of Kentucky Bourbon 2013-present. with illustrator JT Waldman

·     This historical fiction graphic novel and transmedia project highlights the influences of Jews, women, African Americans, and immigrants on Kentucky’s iconic Bourbon industry and consists of four main components: a serial webcomic; a podcast series; a sip-and-study series, and an Omeka-based repository of curated primary materials which form the foundation and inspiriation for the historical fiction webcomic.


·       Four seasons: 10 chapters each, season 1 in progress with anticipated release in September 2022.